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Germany

Brandenburg braces as floods spread in eastern Germany

The floods that have wreaked havoc in parts of Poland, the Czech Republic and the German state of Saxony are spreading west. The flooding of the Neisse River is expected to reach the state of Brandenburg later on Monday.

car half-submerged by floodwaters

The town of Goerlitz has been one of the worst-affected areas

The situation in the regions around the Polish-German border, drowned by rising floodwaters after the Neisse River burst its banks, remains critical. The Neisse has swollen dramatically after a dam on the Witka reservoir in Poland burst on Saturday evening.

The flooding is likely to reach the state of Brandenburg on Monday, according to the state's environment authority. The Spree River is expected to burst its banks on Tuesday.

"The water will rise to levels we haven't seen on the Spree in decades," Matthias Freude, president of Brandenburg's environment authority, told German state radio on Sunday.

11 dead

Flooding brought on by strong rainfall in central Europe and a burst dam in Poland on Saturday have caused widespread damage and the deaths of at least 11 people in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.

In the border town of Goerlitz, where almost 1,500 people had to be evacuated, water levels reached a record of 7.07 meters (23.2 feet) before falling back slightly on Sunday evening.

People in shelter

About 1,500 people had to be evacuated in Goerlitz

The town is reportedly still without electricity, and residents are being advised to boil water before drinking it, according to news agency Agence France-Presse.

In the state of Saxony, the situation remains critical, with floodwaters spreading north. In the town of Bad Muskau, the swollen Neisse has reached the historic Fuerst Pueckler Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

An emergency services spokesperson said part of the park had become flooded despite being protected by sandbags. The site is known as the largest and among the most famous English gardens in Germany and Poland.

Lessons learnt

On Monday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is expected to visit the city of Bautzen in Saxony, which has also been affected by the floods.

The extreme weather conditions has brought back memories of the record flooding in 2002. But Saxony's Premier Stanislaw Tillich, who visited the region on Sunday, said the flooding was restricted to certain areas and was not comparable to the situation eight years ago, when flooding of the Elbe River caused widespread devastation and the deaths of 21 people.

Since then, disaster management has been improved in Saxony, with emergency services staff trained to rescue people by helicopter from floodwaters.

Author: Nicole Goebel, Darren Mara (dpa/AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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